Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Having a tropical Rainforest and Waterfall in your village.

Yes yes I have a tropical rainforest and waterfall in my village.

20 min in Soufriere I also have inactive volcano. They say is should erupt somewhere between now and the next 100yrs. Glad I do not live there since it is a valley and the lava will pretty much take it out when it does erupt.

Anyway I went with Dallase, we had a nice 1 hour hike up to the waterfall. The water up there is crystal clear and amazing. The pool beneath the waterfall is amazing, climbed up the side of the waterfall and dived in. Looking forward to taking my family and friends up there when they visit.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Swearing in making the two year commitment.

Tomorrow I swear in for a two year commitment. The prime minister of Saint Lucia will be there. Here is my memorized speech in Kweyol. This is spelled out phenetially, I have it memorized now.

Bonjou Toot Moon
Hello good afternoon
No Mwen Sa Leo Klejnot
My name is Leo
Mwen Soti Indiana Lamerwick
I am the US living in Indiana
Mwen Ka Westi Canaries
I am now living in Canaries
Mwen Ka Twavi Epe Minis Transformation Social
I am working for the Ministry of Social Transformation

I will talk to you guys later.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why did I join Peace Corps at 27?

Where do you start with that question? Was it wanting a new life? Was I trying to escape something? Boredom? Disillusioned with the “American Dream”? Lack of career advancement opportunities? Having no idea of what area to pursue my current career or a new one? Not wanting to return to school to double my loan payments and having no idea what I would major in? Was I running away from commitment? The call of the unknown? The idea of facing new challenges?

It would be a lie to say that all of those things did not have a part in it but they were truly not the reason for my decision to join, to leave my family, my job, friends and possessions.

Somewhere between living on farmland to living 12 blocks from our nation’s capitol. Between having no one to having a large number of people who care and love me. Between living in the Hoosier heartland to Saint Lucia in a fishing village.

What do those things/experiences mean?

Having seen this life through so many different world views and points of view has left me with some ability to look at life in a different way. I am not drawing the same conclusions as the majority in regards to what this life is about. I don’t purpose to lay out what it is and it certainly changes as I grow older.

I would start out with the common comment that I have heard from other Peace Corps volunteers when people found out they were joining the Peace Corps. “Wow your joining Peace Corps, that is so cool, I thought about doing that, I really wanted to but I just couldn’t.”

As I spent the last 3 years working professionally I noticed a strange phenomenon after the first 6 months. I would look back at the last week and I could not remember anything of significance, except perhaps a good cigar, some good time with a friend. As the years went on it became 2 week 3 weeks where I would catch myself asking what happened the weeks before as it all become a blur in what was becoming to me, a monotonous life. Hanging on in quite desperation is the English way comes to mind from the Pink Floyd song Time.

I guess I was just not ready to give up, to settle into what seems to me at the time a boring mind suck.

I have also had the fortune to find that every time I make a move to something new and challenging I have met with tremendous success that has opened the door to other better opportunities. If I had listened to some people back in Indiana I would be working in a factory as a supervisor without all of these amazing life experiences.

Most people are happy with this but that’s not me at this point. Perhaps at 30-33 my tune will change.

It just does not make sense to me to work and live to make house payments and provide for your children before your 33 or so. What are you spending 40+ hrs or your life for? A house payment and a car payment? Bah?? Meanwhile your bored and locked in. (the exception is for a few people I know who have excellent, interesting careers and flexible wives) Truly I have found the best points in my life have been when I am meeting new people, experiencing new cultures. "Travel" as my friend Junnaid says is the time when you feel the most alive, the tastes, the sounds, the smells are new, they are not mind numbingly familiar like your day to day can be. Am I not right? Lets test it? What do people all talk about doing when they retire? What is it that they have always wanted to do? Travel…travel….travel. And for some they never get fulfill that dream because they are not able bodied (bad knees or diabetes) or they cannot afford it. Folks we have it backwards, do it while your able bodied and open to new experiences. Trust me, joining Peace Corps or teaching abroad at a later date is just plain more difficult, your set in your ways and lifestyle and your ability to assimilate different perspective, your tastes are dulled unless you have already lived a rich life.

Living the life I have chosen I feel like the first day of camp when my toes first touched the water. That excitement is there. I have two years to explore the entire Eastern Caribbean. Life is good my friends.

Well enough on the rant. Take care everyone.

Mailing Address, 5 weeks before I get my own two bedroom house, Cell phone best way to reach me.

Mailing Address, 5 weeks before I get my own two bedroom house, Cell phone best way to reach me.

Bonjou tout moun (hello everybody),

Things are excellent. Internet is extremely sketchy right now. I will have my own two bedroom house with DSL in about 5 weeks when my home stay is complete so you will have to bare with me until then. Cell phone is really the only way to reach me, my number is listed in a previous posting. I also want to point out that I do not have anyone’s phone number since my cell died so email your contact info and don’t feel hurt if I have not called you. Call to me are free for me, check with your provider to find your rate.

Here is my official mailing address.

Leo Klejnot
Canaries Village Post Office
Canaries, Saint Lucia, West Indies

Cell 758-518-4239

It’s that easy, there is no problem with the postal system here, if you send me a package it should arrive in 14 days and is held at the post office. I am going to publish a wish list in another month or so.

Training has been very busy leaving me little time. Once we hit phase 3 of training life will take a more Saint Lucian pace for me . Highlight have been shopping the local markets learning Kweyol. Its actually fairly easy to learn since everyone is bilingual and very friendly. I have been to a village council meeting where community decisions are hashed out. I have a second meeting with the community club who is working on drafting a development plan for grant funding. I would say to anyone working in these areas patience is essential. Your US time scale on efficiency and discussion should be reduced by 90% or you will stroke out on frustration. It’s just the way it is mon.

Its going to take a while for me to wrap my head around the work I will be doing. They basically give you 3 months to explore your options. All of us have been given the generic title of community development in order to allow us to find our niche to work in.
I see my main opportunities lying in a few areas. 1. Working with the Canaries Community Club. This could be interesting; they have been working on a development proposal. The difficulty lies in the fact that it must be a proposal that involves many members of the community. This is good in theory but frankly many people in the community are not engaged. This has caused significant slow down in its development. That’s about as far into as I can go (PC ).

2. The village council. I see myself possibly helping the Chairman John with some projects and organization. That will have to be approached slowly and tactfully as there are many vested interests there. My main goal will be to show that I am competent and trustworthy. John is good man and seems to have many many responsibilities. I do not envy him. He has a fulltime job along with his responsibilities which could easily be another full time job. The most resent accomplishments was the installation of metal trash receptacles free courtesy of the government of China. (better contribution then the US’s Kentucky Fried Chicken) They are quite handsome and many of the village residents are using them making the village much cleaner.

3. Working within the infant and primary schools in some part time way. Alicia one of the other volunteers’ made a key point. You already have a captive audience at the school and being a school you have all the facilities’ you need. I also look two evening a week at the library to the younger children after school.

Aunt Cass I need some books to read to the children please.. 1.Where the Red Fern Grows, 2. CS Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia, and the 3. Hobbit 4. and perhaps the first 3 Harry Potter books. All used paperback please.